If there were a Platonic ideal of indie rock album titles, Veronica Falls might make even old Socrates smirk with Waiting for Something to Happen. In its anticipatory paralysis, “waiting” captures the state so many people feel in their post adolescent, post-collegiate and/or early “adult” years. The eager and or dreaded uncertainty of what may or may not come of one’s yearnings, endeavors, desires, and dreams. I can’t help but think of a line from one of my favorite films Kicking and Screaming by Noah Baumbach (the Tiny Furniture of sorts for a prior generation), a story about five recent college graduates and learning to move on (or not) from college and the choices (many regrettable) they make in their young adult “crisis”: “What I once could pass off as another bad summer, could now be just a bad life.”
But, Veronica Falls’ album doesn’t tell that story or a tale of Dickensian bleakness. However, it isn’t filled with nights of wine and roses (or to continue on the Lena Dunham analogies, Icona Pop and bumps). The narrators and characters running through Waiting For Something to Happen are flawed (“Broken Toy”), nostalgic and smitten (“Teenage”), ostracized yet defiant (“Everybody’s Changing”), and hyperbolicly Romantic (“Buried Alive”). Although in stasis, they aren’t idle; cavorting, loving, questioning, and living their lives all over these vignettes with the unbridled passion and fervor of youth (for the record it isn’t lost on the young, they just savor it differently). The tracks are filled with catchy pop hooks wedging nicely between dreamy and baroque pop. It has the airy and billowy nature of Camera Obscura and Allo’ Darlin with the Nick Drake tinged folk-pop of early Belle and Sebastian couple with more fuzzy vocals and guitars like the Raincoats (in their melodic moments). But like their fellow Scotts, English, and Aussie counterparts, Veronica Falls cleverly ensconces nuggets of melancholy, misery, and sarcasm in the sweetest sounding of melodies.
Waiting for Something to Happen may strike the listener as an album devoted to vainglorious relishing or reminiscing the days of angst and anxiety. Yet, even in their youthful tone and cadence, the themes and emotions still resonate for those years removed from the less constricted and doe-eyed years. It is a welcome reminder that some times artists provide us the necessary lens and filter to reflect and contemplate how the world changes around us and where we stand. No song better captures that emotion than “Everybody’s Changing” — the ambivalent epiphany that all of a sudden folks are going in different directions, physically, personally, emotionally, and one has to decide what to do, hold ground or adapt. But, in truth, it is not about conforming or defying, but accepting your reality: “They say act your age. I don’t know old I am. But what do I care.” As Veronica Falls carefully observes, “acting your age” is a meaningless cultural idiom and (I would argue) a rather flawed way of looking at the world. One shouldn’t heed the voices that utter trite admonishments of concern and paternalism, but follow their internal compass and passion and things (as life so often has its way of doing) will happen.
“…the lucky ones are the people like your husband there. The ones who find work that means something to them. That they can really put their heart into, however foolish it might look to other people.” — from Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
So join the English ladies and gents of Veronica Falls for some thoughtful reflection and frolicking on Waiting for Something to Happen.